A day after it was announced that he would soon be returning to his alma mater as quarterbacks coach, Marques Tuiasosopo was busy making plans for the move itself.
He hopes to be back in Seattle shortly after the start of the New Year and said “I’m definitely excited to be back and to be in the purple and gold again and being one of the nine other guys on the staff to help us win a championship.’’
Tuiasosopo, in a phone interview Sunday, said he received a call from UW coach Steve Sarkisian about a week ago, once it became apparent that there would be openings on Washington’s offensive assistant coaching staff. Despite the attractiveness of the job, he said he had to do some heavy thinking to leave UCLA and head coach Jim L. Mora.
“It was a tough decision,” he said. “I really like the staff there at UCLA and what we did this year and I think what they are going to do next year. They have good kids and we had a really good year and so it was tough. But to have a chance to bring my family back home come coach where I played and then also the opportunity to coach quarterbacks was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.’’
Tuiasosopo spent two seasons at UCLA, working in 2011 as a graduate assistant for Rick Neuheisel and then being retained as a full-time assistant, working with the tight ends, in 2012. He went to UCLA after two seasons at UW as an assistant strength coach. He said he went to UCLA to be able to work in a hands-on coaching role, the profession he decided to pursue after his eight-year NFL career ended following the 2008 season.
“I had a great time in my role when I was here (at UW) before and I had a great opportunity to go learn some more football and learn from some great coaches (at UCLA),” he said. “Coach Mora got hired and offered me a full-time job, so I was ready to stay here forever with Jim. But when Sark called, that’s part of the business and the position opened up and I was grateful that he thought highly enough of me to be the quarterbacks coach and come back up here.’’
Tuiasosopo said Mora attempted to keep him at UCLA.
“He tried,” Tuiasosopo said. “He didn’t want me to leave. But at the same time he was phenomenal throughout. He knows this is an opportunity that doesn’t come around a lot and you need to look into it. Ultimately my goal is to coach quarterbacks and at this moment they have a quarterbacks coach in their offensive coordinator (Noel Mazzone). So I’m just really grateful to Jim for helping me through this process and I’m just really excited to get up to Seattle and start this next chapter in my coaching life.’’
Tuiasosopo’s contact terms at UW have not yet been released. He was making $100,000 a year at UCLA and will likely make at least twice that at UW — Jimmie Dougherty and Joel Thomas, the two coaches who left UW’s staff in the last week, were each due to make $205,000 in 2013.
At UW, Tuiasosopo will be reunited with Keith Price, with home he worked in his two seasons as an assistant strength coach. He also takes over what is a full quarterback roster, expected to have five scholarship QBs for the spring, the others being sophomore Derrick Brown, redshirt freshmen Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles and true freshman Troy Williams, who is expected to enroll early and participate in the spring.
“Not only Keith being there but the other quarterbacks in the room that definitely had a huge impact on making this decision,” Tuiasosopo said. “They are all great kids and I know a lot of them from watching their recruiting film and what not. I’m really excited to coach every single one of those guys. Keith has obviously been the starter the last two years and I’m just looking forward to helping us win a lot of football games.’’
Asked if he’d had a chance yet to review Price’s 2012 season and what changed from 2011, he said “not really. I didn’t watch too many of the games. Obviously you get the buzz of what is going on, but I have no idea. I’ll sit down and talk with him and watch the film and see what we need to do to play as good as we need to to win the games that we play next year.’’
Tuiasosopo said he will likely continue to recruit the same areas he did for UCLA — the Northwest and San Diego. Dougherty also handled the San Diego area for UW.
Recruiting, he said, is something he has learned quickly to love, as he has every aspect of coaching.
“I definitely had two dreams,” he said. “I really wanted to be in the NFL and play quarterback and then get into coaching and ultimately I want to be a head coach. I love it. I love teaching. I love giving back to the kids and helping them out and just being there for them and building them up and showing them the ropes and encouraging them. It’s a great deal for me because I love it and I have a tremendous passion for it.
“You never know until you get into it, But I love every aspect of it. There’s not one aspect that I don’t care for. I love it all. I love recruiting and teaching the game and just being a part of it. Seeing these kids’ faces after a victory in the locker room when they are hooting and hollering with a smile on their face is the best thing in the world for me right now.’’